“Indigenous DNA is so sought after that people are looking for proxy data, and one of the big proxy data is the microbiome,” says Yracheta. “If you’re indigenous, you have to consider all these variables if you want to protect your people and culture.”
In a presentation at the conference, Joslynn Lee, member of the Navajo Nation, Laguna Pueblo, and Acoma Pueblo and a biochemist at Fort Lewis University in Durango, Colo., spoke about her experience in monitoring changes in microbial communities in rivers experiencing mine spills in Silverton, Colo. Dr. Lee also offers practical advice on how to plan a microbiome analysis, from sample collection to treatment.
During a panel on careers in data science, Rebecca Pollet, a biochemist and member of the Cherokee Nation, noted how many mainstream pharmaceuticals are developed based on traditional knowledge. and indigenous plant medicine. For example, the antimalarial drug quinine was developed from the bark of a species of Cinchona tree, which the Quechua people have historically used as medicine. Dr. Pollet, who studies the impact of traditional medicines and foods on the gut microbiome, asked: “How do we honor that traditional knowledge and compensate for what’s lost?” covered?”
One participant, Lakota elder Les Ducheneaux, added that he believes that medicine derived from traditional knowledge has wrongly removed the traditional prayers and rituals that accompany treatment, making the medicine less effective. “You constantly have to weigh the scientific part of medicine with the cultural and spiritual part of what you are doing,” he said.
IndigiData in the future
During the IndigiData conference, participants also discussed ways of managing their own data to serve their communities.
Mason Grimshaw, a data scientist and board member of Indi native in AI, spoke about his research with linguistic data on the International Wakashan AI Consortium. The consortium, led by engineer Michael Running Wolf, is developing an automatic speech recognition AI for the Wakashan languages, an endangered group of languages spoken in some communities of the United States. first family. The researchers believe that automatic speech recognition models can maintain the fluency of Wakashan languages and restore their use to future generations.